The Contemporary Art Society tour (CASt) is London’s original and most popular gallery bus tour, taking place throughout the year and offering an inspirational navigation of the city’s most exciting galleries, studios, institutions and independent spaces.
Designed to be convenient and affordable, the breadth of these tours is unrivalled making them perfect for every graduation of contemporary art collector and enthusiast. CASt is not to be missed.
For CASt on 24 September 2011 we took Members on an inspirational navigation of the West end’s thriving commercial gallery scene. Itinerary below.
Mews 42 Gallery, 42 Princes Gate Mews, London, SW7 2PR
“I try to create a relationship between the physicality of materials and psychological terrains. I’m interested in conveying a slightly brutal picture of the human condition.” – Robert Fry, 2011.
Robert Fry’s enduring preoccupation is to find a visual equivalent to the metaphysical space separating the act of representation from the language of abstraction in the medium of painting. Un-coincidently, the human figure is central in Fry’s studies and remains the ultimate conduit to express his obsession with the concepts of form and norm, symmetry and deformation, and that of mutation and maturity. These concepts reflect the fundamental definition of the self and how it relates to its immediate environment. In Related, Fry makes himself the central figure of a psychological study opposing himself to his own father, where the ideals of acceptance and defiance, conformance and rebellion, identity and choice are expressed through the strokes of his brush, combining the precision of the line and the power of the colour in depicting the infinite complexity of such defining paradigms. The wealth of details in space alternated with a disarming lack of it in other instances, the use of mixed media approach punctuated by the power of language and wisdom of words have become Fry’s own vocabulary in the art of interpretation. An art he has exquisitely refined in his haunting and compelling pictures, to offer an endless and recurrent narrative to the impossibility of stillness in the human condition.
Lisson Gallery, 52 – 54 Bell Street, London, NW1 5DA
Casebere’s detailed photographs address contemporary and historical social concerns; and the work challenges the boundaries between reality and imagination. The works in the Lisson exhibition signal a return to the American landscape, a subject Casebere began investigating over thirty years ago with his Life Story works. In the Landscape with Houses series, the artist expresses a fascination with the vernacular notion of home.
The images are carefully constructed compositions based on a recreation of the suburban area of Dutchess County in Upstate New York as a model in the artist’s studio. As one might reconstruct an experience of landscape from memory, the model houses were created one by one and only later placed on a set, reassembled in different configurations. Colours, architectural features and details, and the relative scale of parts were revisited several times, resulting in a pastiche of the ideal suburban neighbourhood.
Three words capture the values upon which these communities are, perhaps misguidedly, built: Credit, Faith, Trust. Casebere describes the works in this exhibition as “a response to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and the madness of the way we live in the age of global warming and the end of oil, when for more reasons than one, the American Dream of home ownership has become a dangerous fantasy.“
Jack Bell Gallery, 13 Mason’s Yard, London, SW1Y 6BU
Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou shoots traditional voodoo rituals, rites, ceremonies, and festivals local to Benin, West Africa. Aboudia is noted for his large-scale, heavily layered, brutally energetic paintings that combine an innocence and spontaneity with the portrayal of a dark interior world. Hamidou Maiga’s distinctive outdoor studio portraits eloquently portray Malian Society in its era of transition from a cosmopolitan French colony to an independent African nation. Paa Joe blurs the line between art and craft, sculpting coffins to reflect the ambition or the trade of the person for whom it was made. They are not dead things but are instead a manifestation and affirmation of life. Bandoma uses watercolour, ink, clippings from contemporary glossy publications to produce a series of genetic mutations, often fragile, funny and at time grotesque. The paintings of Afedzi Hughes draw parallels between violent colonial histories and contemporary social conflicts. Signage, symbols and text often combine to create tensions between seemingly unrelated forms.
Hauser & Wirth, 196A Piccadilly, London, W1J 9DY
“Things aren’t just visual. They are sensations of physicality.” – Phyllida Barlow in ‘Modern Painters’, Summer 2011.
Inspired by the everyday objects of the city, Barlow has created a group of works that brings the cacophony of the gallery’s external surroundings inside. The urban congestion is ‘captured like something wild or feral’, says Barlow, and is evolved into a purely physical object, stripped of any symbolic context and resituated within the gallery. The verticality and mass of the sculptures, broken up by the staccato application of brightly coloured paints and draped fabrics, takes over the entire building from the basement to the attic. Like the urban environment from which they are drawn, Barlow’s sculptures are not passive emblems, but instead active objects that swallow their surroundings. These new works are precariously positioned and obstruct the viewer’s path, forcing them to look around, underneath or above their great mass and imposing position.
Look with all your eyes, look
Frith Street Gallery, 17–18 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JJ
Frith Street Gallery is delighted to announce its summer exhibition, Look with all your eyes, look. A group exhibition, it draws together works by eight artists based in the UK, USA and Europe: Rachel Adams, Sara Barker, Neil Clements, Alex Dordoy, David Maljkovic, Helen Mirra, Rudolf Polanszky and Erin Shirreff. The exhibition, which includes sculpture, painting and photography has no rigid theme but is rather an exploration of form and structure; material and illusion.
The exhibition is curated by Susanna Beaumont, Frith Street Gallery’s recently appointed Director. It takes its title from Jules Verne’s 1876 novel Michael Strogoff, in which the eponymous hero is imprisoned and supposedly blinded by his captors. The line also appears on the opening pages of Life: A User’s Manual by the French writer Georges Perec, published in 1978.
Sadie Coles, 4 New Burlington Place, London, W1
Georg Herold, one of the most prominent German artists of the last three decades, has long been identified as a key influence on artists in Europe and beyond. Both in terms of his multifaceted oeuvre (which spans sculpture, installation, photography, painting and video), and his sustained concern with the disjunction between appearance and language, Herold has simultaneously assimilated and given shape to some of the key conceptual trends of recent decades.
His latest works depict figures in various dynamic poses. Their armatures consist of sprawling amalgams of wooden blocks, recalling a series Herold made in the 1990s of battens joined in jagged arcs which mimicked pixelated lines. Several works are covered in tent-like skins of stretched, lacquered canvas which conceal this underlying structure while accentuating its blunt angularity.
Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JD
The Kandors series, which Kelley initiated in 1999, are sculptural depictions of Superman’s birthplace Kandor. The popular Superman story recounts the adventures of an alien being sent to Earth as a baby to escape the total destruction of his home planet Krypton. However, it turns out that Kandor was not, in fact, destroyed. Shrunk and bottled by a villain, the futuristic city was later rescued by Superman and protected under a bell jar in his sanctuary, the Fortress of Solitude. For almost a quarter-century in comic-book time, Kandor and its miniature citizens survived in Superman’s care, sustained by tanks of atmosphere, a constant reminder of his lost past and a metaphor for his psychic disconnection from his adopted planet.
In the current exhibition, Kelley has shifted his formal investigations to monumental sculptural problems, depicting Superman’s Fortress of Solitude as a sort of bunker in ruins.